Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Little Adventures #15: Manly Beach. June 2022.

So this is the photo Tom30 sent me at 4 PM on the first day of my holiday. I was 800kms away in Bowral, checking in. They were there, thinking, “Any moment now, Mum’ll be home from work! She’s been gone ALL DAY.”

Poor babies.


… holidays like this one are so special. They’re like retirement on steroids.

Sure, I’m retired and can do what I feel like doing – even doing some CRT work if I want to. But I still have dogs and people relying on me to do things. Here, on holidays like this, I’m totally free to do whatever I want.

This time, I stretched that to the limits by refusing to plan anything before I left. All I had were the accommodation bookings of 2 nights in Bowral and 5 nights in Manly Beach.

Everything else was left blank. I was able to fill these days however I chose.

I did a bit of this over 2 days, just chipping away at it. When I was at Bowral I didn’t even leave the room! I read a couple of books and did some sewing and watched some ‘Better Call Saul.’

One morning in Manly Beach, for a couple of hours, I sat just inside the room with the balcony doors opened and sewed, listening to the sound of the ocean every time the machine paused. It was lovely.

When I’m on these Little Adventures where I stay overnight somewhere, unless I’m meeting people, I always race around during the days and when twilight hits, I make my way back to the room and spend the evening inside. Safety first! As a solo-travelling woman, I have to keep in mind that some people are crazy.

So when I reached Bowral I went to the supermarket before I checked in. I’d already brought vegemite, crackers, a couple of tins of tuna, chips and chocolate from home, so I bought butter, dips and a couple of frozen meals for dinner.

Not exciting, but then, I’m not much of a foodie.

So, once I checked in, I was free to hunker down and be totally self-indulgent. Besides, I’d been to Bowral last year for a Little Adventure so I knew what was around there. Well, it was a Little Adventure BEFORE I started doing them.

However, all bets were off when I got to Manly!

The last time I was in Sydney was 13 years ago when the boys and I stayed for a week at Darling Harbour. We did the bridge climb – which is when I found out that my youngest son is scared of heights, oops! – and raced around to aquariums, Taronga zoo etc.

Never made it to Manly Beach, so this time around I was going to poke around and have a look at the actual harbour and see what Manly itself has to offer.

It was winter (obviously) but it was a sunny day. While I was waiting for my room to be ready I walked along the foreshore, stopping every now and then to read a little from my book, then walking again.

This was a Nippers surfing class. My kids were never involved with the Nippers but my nieces grew up on the beach, so they were heavily involved. They loved it.

I took this shot when I was sitting reading. I looked up and loved the shades of blue.

When I checked in, went to Coles for more supplies and got back, it was twilight and I sat on the balcony and gave Mum a call. She was in rehab due to taking a tumble and fracturing her pelvis a few weeks ago. As I was talking, two lorikeets decided to visit. (I popped my foot there for reference.)

I thought that was as close as they’d come, but I was mistaken. We get lorikeets in Melbourne now – not ever when I was a child – but they’re not as fearless as this!

The next afternoon, after a lazy morning reading and sewing, I decided to see where the Manly wharf was. I was idly planning to jump on a ferry on Wednesday to see Sydney Harbour.

When I got there the water was choppy. I thought, “Bugger it! I’m going to be travelling across the Drake Passage in December. Let’s have a choppy ferry ride today!”

Turns out that it was good decision to make. Fortunate Frogdancer struck again, though I didn’t know it at the time.

I walked around the harbour with the bridge and Opera House for a while. Obviously, Melbourne is bY FAR the best city to live in, but even I have to admit that Sydney’s harbour is glorious. Our Port Phillip Bay can’t hold a candle to it.

Here’s a bin chicken I saw at The Rocks.

I don’t know if my overseas readers know, but Captain Bligh, of ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ fame, was a Governor od New South Wales in the later part of his career.

If memory serves, he was pretty bad at that job too, but I could be wrong.

I liked how you could be walking through The Rocks and the bridge would just pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. It reminded me of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.

This place has some of the oldest buildings in Australia. I chuckled when I remembered a man in the UK asking me what I was most excited about seeing while I was there. I said, “If you have anything over 200 years old, I’ll be happy.”

He smiled and said, “I think we’ve got you covered!”

Tuesday was a lovely day. I mentioned before that the last time I was in Sydney was 13 years before. On that visit, I left the boys Home Alone for an evening and went to a blog meet of all of the Sydney bloggers in our little blogging circle.

Fifi La Stupenda was one of those women. That was the only time I’ve ever met her IRL, but we’re friends on FB. For the past year or two, I’ve been posting a couple of Dad jokes a day there, and apparently Fifi’s been enjoying them. When I posted a photo of the view from my balcony at the Sebel, she contacted me and suggested we meet for brunch.

Although she lives a couple of bays away, Manly Beach is a reserve and so for someone who swims in the ocean every single day as she does, it’s worth the drive to swim among fish, sharks and other underwater creatures. Far more interesting than just bare sand!

She goes to Manly to swim nearly every day, so we arranged to meet for brunch at a café near the beach.

It was a gamble for both of us – it’d either be a raging success or it’d be a stilted conversation. But, as it turned out, we were there for 3 hours having a lovely time, so much so that we agreed to meet for lunch the following day. That’s where the ‘Fortunate Frogdancer’ thing from Monday applies. If I hadn’t taken the ferry on Monday I wouldn’t have been free to have lunch on Wednesday.

It’s funny how things have a way of working out.

After brunch I walked to the Manly Gallery to see what was there. There were a couple of exhibitions about refugees, which were ok, but I vastly preferred the sculpture of the tree outside:

On the way home I stopped at a shop/gallery featuring indigenous art. Now, THIS was fantastic! Who knows what I might have walked away with, but I knew I was going to be spending around 6K on flights, accommodation and insurance for Antarctica when I got back to the room.

I wasn’t feeling very spendy about anything else.

This is what the water looked like while Fifi was having her pre-lunch swim. I never use filters on my photos – this is what it looked like on the surface. Apparently, she was swimming with the ‘sweetest’ little grey nurse shark under those waves.

She took me to the café near the old Quarantine Station where we saw this magnificent view of the harbour. It was nearly dinner time when she dropped me back at the hotel. Say what you like about blogging, but it certainly draws like-minded people together!

The next day I drove home, accidentally leaving my reading glasses and sewing lamp in my room. What a doofus I am! The service at the Sebel for the timeshare is impeccable though – they’re posting them down to me.

As I said at the start, a holiday like this is retirement on steroids. I had total freedom to do as much or as little as I wanted, with the freedom to grab opportunities as they came up. It was a lovely little break from my regular life, with the added bonus of being able to hear the sea whenever I was in my room.

It was wonderful.

Dad joke of the day:


  1. sandyg61

    Glad you had a great time and beat the rain.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I was so lucky!
      It’s all flooded out now.

  2. IM-PCP

    It looks like you had a wonderful time. Thanks for posting all the photos–I felt like I had a chance to get away myself this morning.

  3. Ce

    I’m reading your blog from start to finish and promised myself I’d only comment when I was up to the present day but I can’t let this pass!

    The man was so right – as a Brit in Australia I remember thinking that these old Sydney buildings were so new! It really made me think about the history of my birth country. I’d always taken it for granted before. (Imagine – near Hampton Court Palace and taking it for granted!)

    • FrogdancerJones

      Wow. One of the most exciting days in my life was when I went to Hampton Court Palace. I’d dreamed of going there all my life! (Fun fact – the photo at the very top of the blog, under the name, is actually the roofline and sky of Hampton Court Palace!)

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